Mar 192014
 

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Nothing to Lose
Nashville is pretty solidly out of the playoffs. I find this to possibly be their biggest advantage in tonight. Teams with nothing to lose tend to play much better than teams with something to lose. Also I think this game will be scrappy because the Preds are probably bitter and angry that they’ll be missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year (and only the second time since 2003) and the Canucks will be panicky and feisty because they’re desperate. I predict a Sestito fight or two. But Canucks will need to keep their heads (I’m looking at you Kassian and Sestito…) and control the penalties or they’ll lose and lose big.

Death By Slap Shot
Shea Weber is a man I love for 2 weeks every 4 years. Because that’s when his ability to kill a man with a slap shot works in my favor because he’s doing it for his/my Country. Tonight he’s my enemy and so is Torts’ blocking shots strategy because it’s the worst possible thing to do when Weber’s the one taking them. The last thing we need is another broken foot or jaw to deal with. So the strategy should be just to keep them from getting the shots.  Own the puck and keep them out of our zone. This should help Lack who has been struggling and letting in softies.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goalie Scorned
Pekka Rinne was pulled in his last game against Edmonton, where Preds lost 5-1. This could be seen as a something that will squelch his confidence tonight however, Rinne isn’t a rookie. More than likely that embarrassing loss will spark a fire in him and he’ll have something to prove against us. Plus, let’s be honest, we’re not a goalie’s worst nightmare anymore. Even if Rinne wasn’t angry and looking to avenge his last performance, he’d still be a challenge to our struggling offense.

The Bright Side
Burrows is back – you know that guy who scores a lot? Thank the Hockey Gods for that. If he can stay hot we’ve got a good chance. Edler’s been playing better and Bieksa’s been solid. Add to that Jensen’s solid play and goal-scoring efforts -he’s had 2 goals and one assist in his last 3 games –and we have a glimmer of hope.

Mar 142013
 

After winning just 1 of 3 games in their recently-concluded road trip, the Canucks head back to Rogers Arena for a 4-game home stand. They’ll look to build on their shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and improve on their rather average 6-3-3 home record.

Like the Canucks, the Nashville Predators are in a dogfight to make the playoffs. They currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference, but are among a group of 8 teams (including the Canucks) that are within 2 points of each other. In fact, after the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, only 8 points separate 3rd place and 15th place in the wild, wild West.

Alex Edler and Scott Hannan

Photo by Frederick Breedon

Perhaps none of this should be a surprise to the Preds. While they managed to retain Shea Weber – thanks to Paul Holmgren, it only took them $110 million to do it – Weber himself hasn’t been as good this season as he has been in the past. Losing Ryan Suter does that. They’re also relying more on second-year players like Roman Josi and Gabriel Bourque.

Now, if you think this matters to Preds fans, or if you think the team would suffer in the box office because of the lockout, you’re wrong. The Predators have sold out all 12 home games so far this season and they expect to sell out the remaining 12 home games the rest of the way.

The Canucks and the Preds have already met once this season. Led by Roberto Luongo and his 23 saves, the Canucks won a 1-0 decision in Nashville back on February 22nd. Dale Weise, who scored the game’s lone goal halfway through the third period, was the unlikely hero.

Canucks Record

25 GP, 12-7-6, 30 points (1st in Northwest Division, 3rd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Jason Garrison has points in consecutive games (1G-1A-2P). He’s also been logging some additional ice-time – in the 23 to 25-minute range – while Kevin Bieksa remains injured (and Andrew Alberts remains in the lineup to play his whopping 10 minutes per game).

After a 5-game stretch during which he allowed an average of 4 goals per game, Pekka Rinne has 2 shutouts in his last 3 games.

Who’s Not

Despite his decent play and his beauty of a spinorama move in Tuesday’s shootout, Mason Raymond only has 4 points (2G-2A) in his last 13 games.

Quickies

  • Maple Ridge’s Vic Bartley was called up by the Predators over the weekend and will play his first-ever NHL game in Vancouver. (Maple Ridge News)
  • Known as the guy who cost the Canucks Revelstoke native, Aaron Volpatti, Steve Pinizzotto finished his conditioning stint with the Chicago Wolves yesterday, and is expected to join the Canucks today. (Vancouver Sun)
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